THE GOLD Coast’s first dedicated spinal cord injury recovery centre will officially open their doors Saturday, giving clients the chance to achieve their goals – whether it’s to stand, walk, or be able to hold a loved one.
Making Strides, located at Burleigh Heads, is the product of four friends who share the common goal of offering a supportive, friendly environment with qualified trainers.
On average, one Queenslander every four days will sustain paraplegia or quadriplegia – around 90 people per year – with the leading causes being road trauma, falls and crushes and water-related incidents.
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Director Steven Pickett said the clinic would fill a much-needed gap in the Gold Coast region, with some clients also travelling from interstate to attend training sessions.
“Most of our clients have previously travelled overseas for this type of program,” he said.
“This centre gives more people access to these services on a regular basis, closer to home.
“Our programs are tailored to each individual and focus on functional gains.
“For example, some of our clients will reach their goals of standing and walking, while others may be able to roll over independently or hold their loved one.”
Rochedale’s Nathan Handley, who sustained C6 quadriplegia after a BMX accident in 2008, was able to balance on one knee and pop the question to his now-fiancée Shearna, with the assistance of the trainers at Making Strides.
“It’s a great facility and a great environment – we all work together to get the most out of my trainings sessions,” Nathan said.
“Since it’s so close to home, I am able to train several times a week to maintain the progress I have made over the years.
“I have made so many improvements while training at Making Strides, and I feel much more motivated and positive about what I can achieve.”
Steven, who sustained a spinal cord injury in a vehicle accident in 2011, said the centre’s main goal was simply facilitating exercise and movement, which are imperative for a healthy mind and body.
“We aim to provide a supportive environment so people can experience the many positive benefits of getting out of their wheelchairs and moving,” he said.
The trainers at Making Strides are university qualified, with years of experience and knowledge of the latest training techniques in spinal cord injury rehabilitation.
These techniques include Functional Electrical Stimulation; applying low-grade electrical currents near a muscle or nerve, which can substitute artificial electrical signals and cause the muscle to contract.
Strengthening exercises are also performed with a range of equipment including weights and body slings and, depending on a client’s type of injury, using a harness to stand.
The main difference between paraplegia and quadriplegia relates to the extent of paralysis and loss of feeling in the limbs.
Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete, with the range of movement and feeling depending on the damage to the spinal cord.
Making Strides will open with an event for supporters and members of the public, with staff and clients on-hand to showcase the facility.
For more information, visit www.makingstrides.com.au.